From Startup to Success Part 2: Datum Metrology Prospers with BuildIT Metrology Software


Simplified Workflows and Improved Features Are Key to Managing Growth

In this 2-part series, we will be examining the successes achieved by Datum Metrology by choosing BuildIT Software to use with FARO® Vantage Laser Trackers for metrology services such as jig building and bond tooling. This installment will focus on the software use case. Check out Part 1 to read more about the advantages of FARO Vantage Laser Tracker for this workflow.

Datum Metrology LLC (DM) is a metrology service provider specializing in jig building and bond tooling for various industries, including automotive, aerospace, naval, and nuclear energy. With decades of combined experience in multiple skilled trade backgrounds, the DM team provides something of a one-stop-shop metrology solution. The company’s depth and breadth of experience give it a unique way of seeing new jobs.

“Instead of looking at a way to, say, inspect a job, we actually plan the job ahead because we can see the whole picture of the build,” says Jason Sobieck, owner of Datum Metrology. “When we go into a customer’s facility, instead of just jumping in and randomly measuring something, we know what we’re going to systematically do next. Being able to do that helps us move a lot quicker than many of our competitors.”

Because DM’s current specialty involves working on large jigs requiring extremely tight tolerances, along with very large bond tools, FARO Laser Trackers and BuildIT metrology software are the company’s measurement tools of choice.

Making Sense of the Data

With a data output rate of 1,000 points per second, the VantageS and VantageE provide feedback for high-speed motion control and high-density scanning, making them ideal for automated applications. The raw data, however, is only as useful as the software used to render it. When looking at software to complete his FARO tracker system, Sobieck already had ideas.

“I’ve used many, many flavors of software, and to be honest, not a lot has changed over the course of the last 10 years,” admits Sobieck. “For me, it was very buggy and had a lot of crash issues. When we started Datum Metrology, I wanted to see what else was out in the market.”

After researching various options, Sobieck settled on a BuildIT software package.

The name BuildIT comes from the fact that the software was originally designed for jig building in conjunction with Laser Trackers. Its function and features, including the real-time feedback and bold arrows, attest to its origins.

“The program was originally built around the core jig-building workflows that people were using it for when it was released 20 years ago,” explains Erin Fong, sales and marketing coordinator at BuildIT Software. “We’ve expanded to add other applications since then, but we always continue to develop the features for jig building and alignment.”

“A huge selling feature for me was the feedback that I’d gotten from multiple people who used BuildIT,” says Sobieck. “Everyone commented on the user-friendly platform of the software. And then for me, what really sold it was their support when I requested a demo. It has been unlike any support I’ve ever received from any software company, period. I’ve never seen anything like it. Once I realized what type of company I was dealing with, the software pretty much sold itself.”

Software is often the sticky part with the inspection workflow, including the learning curve involved with a new program. Sobieck didn’t find that to be the case with BuildIT.

“After only two weeks and two conference calls with BuildIT, I was able to completely do anything that I needed to do – and more efficiently than with prior software,” says Sobieck. “For most software, you have to go through lengthy training courses. With help from the gentleman at BuildIT, I was able to understand the software in only two hours. To me, that is extremely impressive.”

BuildIT continues to exceed Sobieck’s expectations.

“It was actually humorous; I didn’t realize that it was Canadian Thanksgiving Day when I sent in a bunch of questions to BuildIT’s metrology experts at the Montreal Head Office,” admits Sobieck. “I actually got a response, though. I was impressed that somebody took the time to contact me on a holiday.”

“A member of our application engineering team is always going to give you a response and make sure that you’re not stuck, even on a holiday,” says Fong. “They’re very responsive. They genuinely care about our customers.”

User-Friendly Platform

“One thing I love about the BuildIT software is there’s not a downside way of doing things,” says Sobieck. “You can use it similarly to how you would use CMM software; that is, to plan out your entire inspection ahead of time, program the software, and then go through and measure it.

“Or you can do what I’ve found to be my favorite method; which is, as I’m going through and measuring certain things and getting certain details, I use BuildIT software to collect that data as I go and create my report as I go. At the end of the job I hit ‘report’ and it spits out a beautiful report for me.”

BuildIT’s versatile interface is a boon for both novices and seasoned users.

“BuildIT software is very appropriate for a novice user, because you can be simplistic with it” explains Sobieck. “However, for advanced users like myself and my partner, we can go as deep as we want and basically, there’s nothing stopping us from doing absolutely anything we want to do.

“If you use the software correctly there is no real programming. Just name a feature and then the software automatically associates the geometry you measured with the feature you named and gives you an annotation associated with it. It’s really just a matter of what you want to do with it. If you want to apply GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing), it’s very easy to do.”

Time savings

All the features BuildIT engineered into the program were designed with usability and speed in mind.

“The CAD platform on this is incredible,” states Sobieck. “It’s probably the strongest CAD software that I’ve used. A big file that might have taken an hour and a half to download, BuildIT takes 10 minutes to pull in. And then when it’s in there, it’s organized and friendly to use. It’s easy to segregate things, easy to rename and organize files.

“When you want to make a report, it’s even easier,” Solbieck continues. “You open the panel, select ‘add report,’ and boom! – print. The savings that I realize with this software is insane simply because of how much less time I spend on the job. On average, on a job that would normally take me eighty hours, I’d say I’m saving fifteen hours. I have had reports where there’s a lot of linear dimensions and true-position call outs and profile call outs and perpendicularity. On top of that, the customer wants to know the spread between this hole, that hole, and that edge. [Before BuildIT] I had jobs that, I kid you not, took me four hours to measure and thirty-six hours to make a report.

“I actually had the chance to go in and remeasure a job recently,” says Solbieck. “This time I used the BuildIT software. It took me about the same amount of time to measure it, about four hours. But, my report was completely done and presentable in eight hours instead of 36. And it actually looked better than the ones I generated before! Now that’s an extreme case, obviously, but on this particular job, it saved me that much time. That’s huge for me, and it’s huge for my customers because I pass savings along to them.”

Return on investment

“We haven’t really gotten into any type of ROI detail yet, to be honest, because we’re flying around just trying to keep up with everything,” admits Sobieck. “One thing that I can tell you is we’ll probably end up knocking about 20 percent off the time it takes to see ROI compared to the rest of my equipment. A 20 percent increase in ROI is significant for me.”

Laser tracker technology also presents ROI in the form of its positive effect on customer perception.

“We’re getting a lot of attention out here in the Detroit area, for sure,” says Sobieck. “Some clients hear about us from a friend who says they know a guy who can come out to their facility and check things out. We show up with a laser tracker, and they’re mind-boggled by the whole thing, because a lot of people in my area are more used to your traditional CMM machine. They really pick our brain on it. At the end of the day, when they see what it can do, their minds are pretty much blown.”


Learn more about how Datum Metrology uses FARO Vantage Laser Trackers in Part 1.

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